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Los Angeles : Five alternative things to do on a City of Angels Trip

Posted by admin on Feb 3, 2012 in lists, travel

So you’ve been to Los Angeles more than once and ticked off everything your Lonely Planet guide suggested would be fun. You can now rules out a Segway tour of Santa Monica, a drum circle on Venice Beach, an adventurous foray into a Venice pharmacy (followed with a quick back away -you’re really going to sell me what!?) and the usual thrills of Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood Sign and the Getty Museum. Depending on your age, career and personal inclinations you may also want to add West Hollywood to that list, Westwood ( a mecca for students and fraternities), Rodeo Drive (lovely on the eyes, hard on the wallet) and Griffith Park (pretty, but watch out for snakes).

Now you can happily tell everyone that you’ve ‘done LA’- but wait! There’s so much more to the sunshine state than 24 hour McDonald drive throughs and exploring new food outlets such as Taco Bell and Jack In The Box (written by a UK based person, OK?).

Within the city of Los Angeles there exists a panoply of alternative attractions all which will add a little more joy to your Los Angeles expedition, so I’d suggest you to sit up straight and get your CTRL+C fingers at the ready.

In no particular order I’d like to welcome you to my five unusual hot spots in Los Angeles– where the crazy never ends and all adults can become kids again.

The LAX Firing Range: Tuition

Sure, you’ve played plenty of Gears of War but have you ever held a 9mm semi automatic Glock in your hands? The answer may be yes if you’re from abroad or have visited Vegas, but even then it’s unlikley that you’ve loaded the magazine, taken apart the gun or looked inside the machine and learnt how to aim correctly.

LAX Firing Range offer a 2 hour training session that costs $99 (including tax) and which takes you from a gasping sweating gun fearing Brit into an armed and dangerous ninja. OK, in reality you turn from someone who whimpers at every bang to a competent and calculated shooter, who memorizes the rules of combat. Taught by a straight up speaking ex marine, the first rule was that on a semi automatic,  ‘The Safety is the trigger button’. Seriously. The next few rules were equally thrilling (for someone with a Die Hard fetish).

To quote, Rule One: Only point at something you are willing to destroy, Rule 2: Only point when you are ready to shoot and Rule 3: Always check if your gun is loaded.

The 2 hour class taught me how to take a gun apart, put it back together, check if the chamber had bullets in it, learn the release and load buttons for the magazine and learn how to disable a gun if the magazine was empty- but a bullet was still in the chamber.

Read more…

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Rock Paper Scissors UK Championships: A newbie’s review

Posted by admin on Nov 1, 2011 in geekery, random, Strange events


Rock Paper Scissors is  a game many people are familiar with. It’s used to solve arguments, make decisions and while away time whilst waiting for the bus. The more talented lucky may argue that there’s a stratgey to performing well at this game, and the lack of any props other than ones own body makes it universally acceptable. This humble game has moved beyond mere decision making and is now celebrated worldwide, with heats held in different countries, where only those with a fist of steel can win the coveted title of Rock Paper Scissors Champion.  The UK Rock Paper Scissors Championship took place last week on the 22nd October 2011 and over 200 people gathered to try and gain a UK ranking in this sport. I decided to try my hand at gaining the trophy and this is my tale…

Training

Athletes warm up before games, so I embarked on some serious finger exercises. I practised moving my fingers to my thumb very quickly and used some stress balls to really help release the tension in my hand. I also practised a deadpan stare in the mirror- flat eyes, no smile- you’ll never know what’s coming next…

Strategy

To ensure I had the utmost advantage in my Rock Paper Scissors UK Championship event, I researched the sport thoroughly. I discovered that those in the know call it RPS or Roshambo (slightly less of a mouthful) and that it dates back to the Chinese Dynasty in 206 BCE (well, according to Wiki anyways) and that it has been used in court to settle a case (seriously). In terms of strategy there seemed to be dissenting points however- no one could tell me exactly what combo of rock paper scissors would always win. I learnt that three stones in a row is called an ‘Avalanche’ and this is commonly favoured by men, so I might have an advantage doing this version as a lady. It’s also reported that men traditionally open with stone, whilst women prefer paper- interesting. There’s also the notion of gambits- such as PPSPP which can be used to throw someone off guard. A traditional tournament game consists of two people over a table with a Referee in the middle. They call 1,2,3 and on 3 you open your palm. If you both have the same you repeat- and on and on till there’s a best of three win. Read more…

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Ten High Tech Restaurants from around the world

Posted by admin on Sep 22, 2011 in geekery, lists, technology, travel, Yum

Waiter free bars? Sex doll styled Maitre D’s. Ice cream created wearing safety glasses and lab coats? Sounds futuristic, but all of these restaurants do exist, and I’ve sourced the most fascinating to share with you. Dining should be about more than food- enjoy my guide to the top ten High Tech Restaurants of the world.

Number one: Inamo Restaurant, London

Inamo Restaurant is located in Central London and serves you up sushi with a side helping of gadgetry. Everything about this restaurant had been optimized tech wise, from the iPad they check your reservations on to the touchscreen tables where you can order your food. The touchscreen tables are the most interesting part of the restaurant as they offer you so many things. They’re very pretty to look at, as you can choose what colour the table will be (and change it at whim) as well as whether you want it to be flowers/ stripes etc- design led technological place mats. To adjust the table you use a small circular touchpad in the left hand corner- there are no buttons but by moving your fingers and double tapping you can navigate around.

Essentially theses areas act as a mouse and you use an on table menu to navigate settings. There are games to play- should you WANT to play a game whilst eating and you can use the menu to order cocktails and food to your table. You do get waiter service as well, but this is an addition if you’re hungry and want more- or only want to order digitally. You can also access a webcam that goes into the kitchen to see the chef at work. I was excited about this, but the image is fairly  blurry, so it’s not as good as it sounds. The menu also lets you choose your next location, which is cool, so when you leave you know what bar/club you’re retiring too. Read more…

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Reykjavik New Year’s Eve Celebrations: A whistlestop tour of Iceland

Posted by admin on May 17, 2011 in travel

Iceland, land of Fire and Ice, one of the rare parts of the world where you can bathe in hot springs, walk in volcanic ash and dress up like Bjork. That’s what the tourist managers would have you believe, but does it live up to the hype? Till recently Iceland tended to be out of most people’s reach (by this I mean budget) but due to their economic meltdown and huge drive for tourism it is actually quite reasonable now. With this in mind I decide to experience it for myself- and what time of year could be more exciting or busy than New Year’s Eve? Thermal underwear safely packed and long johns bought, I boarded my Iceland Air flight. I was booked for three nights and four days and wanted to make sure I maximized my time in this flying visit.

Iceland is surprisingly small, with a population of 320,000, most of them populating the capital city of Reykjavik. The land mass is 103,000 km2, but much of the terrain is uninhabitable due to glaciers and sand fields. The climate is tempestuous, with volcanoes, geysers and changeable temperatures making it a wonderfully wild place to visit- and fairly volatile to inhabit.

Iceland is a place I’ve always dreamed of going to, partly due to the fame it got in the early 90’s (I blame Bjork) and also due to the fact that all images of it portray it as an ethereal looking Narnia style land… with booze.  I was pretty scared of  visiting a place where the dress code consisted of thermal underwear, so decided the best time to go would be for New Year’s Eve, as I’d be guaranteed some pretty dress action.

Iceland holds a special allure; it’s the 18th largest island in the world, and its mix of settlers- dating back to the Norse era- and young professionals give it an ancient quality with modern influences… (Hey, I’m a hardboiled fantasy fan, OK?)

Research indicated that the Icelandic like to celebrate New Year’s Eve in serious style, so it seemed like the ideal time to go. Here’s my guide to a whistlestop  Reykjavik New Year’s Eve adventure. Read more…

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The World Mermaid Awards celebrates the best Princess Ariel wannabes

Posted by admin on Mar 14, 2011 in random, travel

mercon-mermaid-convention

The Little Mermaid was one of my two favourite Disney films as a child (the other was Aladdin, which is why Al made it onto my childhood crush list). I adored Princess Ariel; I loved her long red locks, her drive for exploration and life, and really enjoyed how she teed off her parents (though in retrospect, they were just looking out for her). I thought her costume was great (if not ideal for adolescents) and that all the songs were incredibly catchy and engaging. I can still sing the first few verses she sang as she swam around her treasure cave;

hannah-mermaid


‘Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl
The girl who has everything?

Look at this trove, treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Looking around here, you’d think
Sure, she’s got everything

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got who’s-its and what’s-its galore
You want thing-a-mabobs?
I’ve got twenty
But who cares? No big deal. I want more’. (You’re humming this in your head now, aren’t you?)

I grew up slightly terrified of octopi and Sea Witches (inevitably related) and have been known to google ‘mermaid costume’ on eBay in my spare time (they tend to all look like porno outfits).

mermaid-costumeprincess-arielHowever, I didn’t hit puberty and think, ‘Wow, y’know that lifelong dream of  becoming a real life mermaid? Well here’s my chance…’ and go on to pose in revealing outfits, sporting a tail to delight dinner guests.

How do you make the jump from paddling pool to a full of tail flouncing and pouting? Is it a slow transition, ‘Yes, my Zara, she did always love to tie her legs together and pretend she was a fish’, or ‘Yes, that girl was a big fan of posing on rocks and it kinda went from there. Just look at her aquarium…’

Some people, somehow, globally, all made the same mermaid life decision at kinda the same time, as this year the first ever WORLD Mermaid Awards are being held in Las Vegas. It’s no whimsy or flight of fancy- tickets are a whopping $35- $195, which shows real dedication. The full price tickets gets you two days at the convention, the awards, and access to the pool party.

So what exactly is the World Mermaid Awards- how do you qualify, what do you need to do, and is there a winner? Read more…

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